Readers’ Place

Far, Far Away

Do you continue to feel the need for your reading to transport you to another place and time? Here are some new titles that do just that.

At the Existentialist CafeAt the existentialist café : freedom, being, and apricot cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and others  by Sarah Bakewell   142.78 Bak
Bakewell focuses upon key individuals Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Martin Heidegger and on their interactions with each other and with the historical circumstances of the harsh twentieth century. With coverage of friendship, travel, argument, tragedy, drugs, Paris, and, of course, lots of sex, Bakewell’s biographical approach pays off, in part because certain abstractions, like Sartre’s enigmatic notion of freedom, seem to make more sense when one knows something about the man’s mess of anxieties and personal entanglements. Heidegger, with his questionable postwar rehabilitation and inward-turned gloominess, less so. De Beauvoir emerges as very much the hero: humanistic, prescient, and fearless.

About WomenAbout women : conversations between a writer and a painter by Lisa Alther  813.54 Alt
Lisa Alther and Françoise Gilot have been friends for more than twenty-five years. Although from different backgrounds (Gilot from cosmopolitan Paris, Alther from small-town Tennessee) and different generations, they found they have a great deal in common as women who managed to support themselves with careers in the arts, while simultaneously balancing the obligations of work and parenthood. About Women is their extended conversation, in which they talk about everything important to them: their childhoods, the impact of war on their lives and their work, fashion, self-invention, style, feminism, child rearing, the creative impulse and the importance of art.

My Holiday in North KoreaMy holiday in North Korea: the funniest/worst place on Earth by Wendy E. Simmons     951.93 Sim
There is nothing like travel to a truly awful place to put American problems into perspective. Photographer, blogger, and world traveler Simmons has chronicled her ten-day journey through North Korea, where handlers schedule Simmons down to the minute and batter her with lectures on American imperialism and Korean superiority. The deceased revered Great Leaders are still running the country from their mausoleum but have come up short on providing electricity and toilet paper to the citizens. Factories and sports arenas are empty until the group stops by, and then orderly crowds of North Koreans rush in. An experience and a read simultaneously humorous, appalling, and very sad.

Compiled by Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 22 Jul 2016 | Comments Off on Far, Far Away

June Summer Reads

Whether you’re going away or staycationing, here are 4 titles that provide a change of scenery and pace.

Dig PrestonThe dig by John Preston, 2016 FIC Preston
In 1939, a farmer’s widow in Suffolk, England, discovers she has buried treasure on her farm. Based on the true story of the Sutton Hoo archeological dig, Preston weaves a story of rivalries and the past’s hold on the present.



Blue between sky and waterThe blue between sky and water by Susan Abulhawa, 2015 FIC Abulhawa
Abulhawa traces a family’s fragile existence in a Gazan refugee camp through profiles of its strong women, starting with Nazmiyeh, arriving there soon after her marriage in 1948, following the Israeli attack on Beit Daras. The family gradually disperses, with her brother, Mamdouh, moving to North Carolina. His granddaughter, Nur, is raised with only snippets of information about her Palestinian heritage, until she travels to Gaza, where she meets her long-unknown cousins and aunts.


This was not the planThis was not the plan by Cristina Alger, 2016 FIC Alger
An overwork-and-alcohol-induced lapse in judgment at a company cocktail party leaves Charlie an unemployed attorney. This was not the life plan Charlie had in mind: no income, parenting a quirky young son, and facing his own estranged father.



Miracle on Monhegan IslandThe miracle on Monhegan Island  by Elizabeth Kelly, 2016 FIC Kelly
Dog-napped Ned, an intelligent, highly observant and intuitive three-year-old shih tzu, narrates the story of  the four men of the Monhegan family as they struggle to reconcile their past resentments, ongoing personality differences, and inner demons, amid small-town gossip,  while housed in the dilapidated Maine family home.


Ina Rimpau

Posted by Barbara | 7 Jun 2016 | Comments Off on June Summer Reads

2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners in Literature

The Pulitzer prizes for literature have been recently announced. The following prizewinning  titles are available, or will be shortly, at Maplewood Memorial Library.

Barbarian DaysBarbarian days: a surfing life  by William Finnegan, 2014. BIOG Finnegan
Arriving on Oahu from California at 13, in the mid-1960s, Finnegan discovered that Hawaiian public school students weren’t particularly welcoming to haoles; surfing brought him acceptance and contentment, and would remain central to his life for the next half century. In the late 1970s, he set out in pursuit of a perfect wave, and spent five years circumnavigating the globe with long stops in Polynesia, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, and South Africa. The social inequality he witnessed led him to journalism, but after his return to the U.S. and fatherhood, the waves still beckoned, even if that meant enduring a January swell off Long Island.

SympathizerThe sympathizer   by Viet Thanh Nguyen, 2015. FIC Nguyen This novel begins with its nameless protagonist, a highly placed young aide to a general in the South Vietnamese army, recalling how he finalized the details of escape before the fall of Saigon. But our hero is a double agent, a communist sympathizer who will continue to feed information to the North even after he makes the harrowing escape on the last plane out, and becomes part of the Vietnamese refugee community in Southern California. Breathtakingly cynical, the novel has its hilarious moments; the reader will especially enjoy Nguyen’s take on 1970s American life.  The Sympathizer will be the September selection for the Read Around the World book club.

Black FlagsBlack flags: the rise of ISIS by Joby Warrick, 2015. 956.9104 War
The American invasion of Iraq in 2003 catapulted Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to the head of a vast insurgency. Like-minded radicals saw him as a hero resisting the infidel occupiers and rallied to his cause. Their wave of brutal beheadings and suicide bombings continued for years until Jordanian intelligence provided the Americans with the crucial intelligence needed to eliminate Zarqawi in a 2006 airstrike. But his movement endured, first called al-Qaeda in Iraq, then renamed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, seeking refuge in unstable, ungoverned pockets on the Iraq-Syria border. As the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, ISIS seized its chance to pursue Zarqawi’s dream of a sweeping, ultra-conservative Islamic caliphate.

Compiled by Ina Rimpau



Posted by Barbara | 26 Apr 2016 | Comments Off on 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winners in Literature

Readers are talking...